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Publishers’ Preview: Diverse Voices: Five Questions for Pénélope Bagieu

Publishers' Previews: Special advertising supplement in The Horn Book Magazine

This interview originally appeared in the May/June 2018 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Diverse Voices, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

Sponsored byMacmillan

Thirty-two badass women from all eras and corners of the globe get their due in the comics tribute Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World.

Photo: George Baier IV.

1. Okay, it’s just us here. Which woman profiled in your book is your favorite?

That’s impossible — it’s like choosing between your own kids! The woman I wanted to dedicate a whole book to, though, was volcanologist Katia Krafft. Ninety-nine percent of the images of volcanoes we have today come from her. She went on a honeymoon on a volcano and eventually died on one. She rocks.

2. How did you decide whom to include?

I picked my absolute favorite women, the ones I can talk about for hours and annoy everybody around me. I also wanted to portray women who were not necessarily Western, white, heterosexual, and cisgender. And to represent a lot of eras and disciplines.

3. Would you call yourself “brazen”? (And what’s that in French?)

Ha, the original title is “Culottées,” which is an amazing word that means “bold,” but also has in it another word that means “panty.” All the women in the book did exactly what they wanted with their lives. I hope that yes, I do qualify.

4. Each profile concludes with a gorgeous wordless double-page spread. How did you know which moment of the subject’s life to highlight?

I tried to focus on a moment when each woman was really herself: Tove Jansson rowing to a quiet island with her wife; Queen Nzinga about to ambush her enemies on the battlefield; Peggy Guggenheim in her Venetian palazzo surrounded by all her “babies.”

5. If you could add one more “brazen lady” to your book, who would it be?

At the end of the book, there are thirty names of amazing women who were totally Brazen material but didn’t make it to the A-list (but were close). I hope readers will look them up too!

Sponsored byMacmillan

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